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Walnut Pesto

Read more posts tagged with: olive oil (2), parmesan (3)

Pesto is a beautiful sauce combining fresh basil, garlic and parmesan with a base of nuts and oil. Tangy and flavourful, if you need an excuse to grow some basil plants this is it! Pesto goes well on pizza or pasta and makes a great dip to serve with cheese and crackers. I use walnuts here but any nut can be used really – pine nuts are used in a lot of traditional recipes. Lightly toast the nuts first by tossing them in a pan over low-medium heat until just starting to change colour. Pine nuts burn very easily and taste awful when burnt, so keep an eye on them. A food processor works well but I like using a mortar and pestle – after all the words pesto and pestle share a root word. If a food processor is used I suggest blending cheese and nuts first until the consistency of bread crumbs, then adding oil and lemon juice and finally the basil, pulsing until the basil is in small pieces – don’t take it so far that there’s no specks of basil left.

Depending on the ingredients on hand flat leaf parsley can also be added. Lemon is not completely traditional but I like the extra kick of flavour, and it makes up for not using as much raw garlic as some recipes.

pesto (1 of 1)


  • 1-3 cloves of garlic, to taste
  • 1 chunk of parmesan or grana padano cheese, around 50g/2 oz
  • a handful of toasted walnuts, pine nuts or other neutral flavoured nuts.
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 good bunch of fresh basil
  • salt


Pick basil leaves off any large stems. Dice or grate the cheese. Add a pinch of salt, nuts, garlic, cheese and basil to a large mortar.

pesto (1 of 1)-2

Start pounding and stirring until the ingredients are fairly well broken down and mixed together.

pesto (1 of 1)-3

Add olive oil and lemon juice and continue to mix. until the mixture is fairly smooth.

pesto (1 of 1)-4

Read more posts tagged with: olive oil (2), parmesan (3)

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